By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Steve Austin opening segment: Austin taking part in a meaningful segment on Raw is always good for a thumbs up from me. Austin took a fun stroll down MSG memory lane before getting down to business. The tension between Austin and Braun Strowman was solid. It would have been better if Austin had shown awareness of Strowman expressing concern over him being the moderator of the contract signing rather than having Seth Rollins point it out to him. It’s good for Austin and WWE if viewers believe he’s watching on a regular basis and not above watching Raw on Monday nights. That aside, this was a strong segment and AJ Styles was a blast as the heel foil for Austin.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley: All four wrestlers worked an intense and physical style, which is exactly what their storyline called for. I loved the simple backstage shot of Lynch and Flair that preceded the match. Neither woman said a word, but the facial expressions said it all about the tension that exists between the two characters. I’m still feeling a bit underwhelmed by Bayley’s heel turn. It seemed like a great time to shake up the presentation and look of the character.
Ricochet vs. Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat King of the Ring semifinal match: As much as I rolled my eyes at the idea of having a Triple Threat in a singles tournament, the wrestlers came through with a strong match. Corbin stealing the pin to advance to the finals is perfect for his character. It was bizarre to hear Corbin receive dueling chants from the MSG crowd and it will be interesting to see if that is a trend or an anomaly. On an unrelated note, he looks a million times better in Dean Ambrose-like gear than he did in the awful bartender shirt.
Rey Mysterio vs. Gran Metalik: A fun match and the peak of Metalik’s main roster run this far. Metalik took the loss, but Mysterio gave him a lot of offense before beating him. Mysterio is clearly the guy the creative team has plans for, but hopefully this match will somehow lead to bigger and better things for Metalik.
Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Cedric Alexander, and The Viking Raiders vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode: A minor Hit for a decent main event that made the live crowd happy, but it left something to be desired in terms of pushing the pay-per-view. The Rollins and Strowman disagreement heading into a commercial break was compelling, but it was basically forgotten about once they returned from the break. I thought we might get a post match angle with Rollins and Strowman. Instead, they opted for another crowd pleasing Steve Austin beer bash.
AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander in a non-title match: I assumed the DQ finish was enough to justify Alexander getting a title shot at Clash of Champions. Instead, creative took it a step further by having Alexander pin Styles to win the 10-man tag main event. Alexander matches are almost always good for a Hit. But when will viewers actually get to know him?
Firefly Funhouse: It’s interesting to see WWE push a future pay-per-view main event before the preceding pay-per-view takes place. I’m not complaining. The Fiend is the hottest thing the company has going at the moment. There’s a risk of the character peaking or even flaming out by moving him right into the WWE Universal Title picture so quickly, but once the decision was made to do so then the correct thing to do is treat it as a major event. Like most viewers, I assumed that Wyatt would make a run at Steve Austin. Ultimately, though, they made the right call by not raising fan expectations for Austin to seek revenge on Wyatt.
WWE Raw Misses
The final push for Clash of Champions: A minor Miss. The pay-per-view was given plenty of lip service from the broadcast team, but the show didn’t leave me more excited about Clash of Champions than I was going in.
Lacey Evans vs. Natalya: This was the only time the live crowd seemed to grow restless. The in-ring work was solid and Natalya continues to get better matches out of Evans than most of her peers have. The finish did nothing for me though, as it this feels like a parity booking feud that’s quickly going nowhere.